French Military to Acquire Strategic Assets from Ailing IT Giant 

French Military to Acquire Strategic Assets from Ailing IT Giant 

Key Points:

  • The French government will acquire the strategic assets of Atos, a struggling IT firm, to protect national security and technological independence.
  • Atos plays a critical role in France’s defense infrastructure, including building supercomputers for the nuclear deterrence program and developing key systems for the armed forces.
  • The acquisition aligns with France’s strategy of safeguarding critical technologies and ensuring autonomy in strategic sectors.

France Takes Control of Atos’ Strategic Assets to Safeguard National Interests

The French government has announced its intention to acquire the strategic assets of struggling IT firm Atos in a move to protect national security and technological independence. The decision comes as Atos faces significant financial challenges and seeks to restructure its operations.

A Strategic Move for National Security

Atos plays a crucial role in France’s defense and technological infrastructure. The company is responsible for building supercomputers used in the nation’s nuclear deterrence program, designing the Scorpion combat information system for the French army, and developing a big data platform for the Ministry of Armed Forces. Concerns arose when Atos, burdened by a record loss in 2023 and unsustainable debt, entered into talks with potential buyers, including foreign entities.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire emphasized the importance of keeping Atos’ strategic activities under French control, stating, “The aim is to keep Atos’ strategic activities under the exclusive control of France… We’re taking the initiative because it’s the role of the state to defend Atos’ strategic interests and to avoid sensitive technologies that are crucial in terms of supercomputers or defense, which could depend on foreign interests at any time.”

French State to Lead Acquisition

Through its shareholding agency APE, the French state will lead the acquisition of Atos’ strategic assets. While the specific details are still under discussion, the government has indicated that other French companies in strategic sectors such as defense or aeronautics may also participate. This approach mirrors the ownership structure of other key French enterprises like Naval Group and TechnicAtome, where the state holds a majority stake alongside other relevant industry players.

Securing Sensitive Technologies

The acquisition is expected to encompass assets accounting for approximately two-thirds of Atos’ Big Data & Security (BDS) unit, representing an estimated enterprise value between €700 million and €1 billion. This move aligns with France’s broader strategy of safeguarding its critical technologies and ensuring its autonomy in strategic sectors.

France has a history of maintaining significant control over its defense industry. The state holds substantial shares in companies like Thales and KNDS and has established regulations requiring foreign investors to seek approval before investing in sensitive sectors or strategic assets.

Atos Welcomes Government Intervention

Atos has expressed its support for the government’s initiative. The company acknowledges the importance of protecting France’s sovereign interests and views the acquisition as a positive step towards ensuring the long-term sustainability of its strategic activities.

Looking Ahead

The French government’s decision to acquire Atos’ strategic assets underscores its commitment to maintaining technological sovereignty and protecting national security. While the acquisition process is still in its early stages, it is expected to be finalized in the coming months. This move will undoubtedly significantly affect the French technology landscape and the broader European defense industry.